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Teacher Appreciation Week 2023: Hear what students have to say

To state the obvious, teaching is hard work, and there’s no shortage of challenges today’s educators face. With a steadfast commitment to their students, teachers make the world richer, brighter, and more complete.

Teacher Appreciation Week—first celebrated by National PTA nearly 40 years ago in 1984—gives us an opportunity to reflect on how much we admire the dedicated educators who make our classrooms hum with joy and learning every day.

We turned to students on the Paper™ Educational Support System to learn more about the incredible teachers in their lives. Learners shared how educators helped them study new languages, explore challenging concepts in math, fall in love with reading, and much more.

Time and again, these students also expressed gratitude for the support they received in areas beyond academics—learners were grateful that teachers valued their overall well-being, and many students commented on the kindness, humor, and gentle encouragement of their instructors.

We were so inspired by what we heard that we knew we couldn’t keep it to ourselves. Here’s just a handful of the hundreds of appreciative comments we received.

Setting students up for success in the classroom—and beyond

The students we spoke to know learning doesn’t happen in a vacuum. In fact, they were quite eager to explain how their teachers helped them connect schoolwork to life outside of school.

Curiosity and connection

Many students struggle to feel comfortable asking questions and making mistakes, and it can be hard for some to understand how the concepts taught in school connect to the real world. One student we heard from shared how their math teacher truly excelled in these areas.

“She goes above and beyond to make sure that everyone in her class understands the material and is able to apply it in real-life situations. Her teaching style is engaging and interactive, which makes learning math fun and enjoyable. She is patient and always willing to help students who are struggling, and she never makes anyone feel embarrassed or ashamed for asking questions. I feel lucky to have had her as my math teacher, and I know that she has made a positive impact on the lives of many students.”

Practical skills and renewed confidence

Picking up a new language can be daunting, but great teachers empower students to feel confident in their skills so they can practice what they already know and continue to grow. That’s what one student told us about their exceptional Spanish teacher.

“My language teacher inspired me to use my Spanish beyond the classroom, and I can now (sort of) order a meal in Spanish! She helped me break my silence and practice my Spanish with people in more places, like a restaurant or a playground.”

Career and college exploration

Teachers play an instrumental role in helping students explore the different paths that are open to them after graduation. One high school student told us how important their AVID teacher was in this regard.

“He has been so supportive and encouraging. I love going to his class because we get to take courses that will get us ahead in college, visit colleges, and learn about the inner workings of the mind. He is a great teacher.”

[READ: “College and career readiness activities for your students”]

Focusing on the whole student

The work that teachers do to support student well-being doesn’t go unnoticed. Here’s what the learners we spoke to had to say about how grateful they are for the teachers who look out for them.

A welcoming environment for newcomers

Getting started at a new school isn’t always easy, but when educators make you feel welcome, it can make all the difference. That’s why one student we heard from was so thankful for a special teacher at their new school.

“I am a new student at this school and have had trouble trying to fit in with the rest of my school. There has been one teacher who has helped me fit in while having fun learning. She is an amazingly kind teacher who does a very good job at letting sixth graders adjust from leaving elementary school. She cares for our entire class and always does her best to help each and every one of us.”

Student safety at the forefront

Teachers set the tone, and the work they do to help students feel secure in their surroundings is so appreciated. Young learners notice when their teachers foster an environment where they feel safe being themselves. Some students described this level of comfort and reassurance as being nothing short of life-changing, and it’s all thanks to teachers who care.

Empathy and encouragement

We heard about so many exceptional educators this year—from art teachers to physical education instructors, substitute teachers, and beyond. One learner told us about how their favorite teacher was a dedicated long-term substitute.

“I genuinely feel like she cares about her students, and she is always wishing the best for us. She cares about our lives and always makes sure school isn’t too overwhelming.”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves

The hundreds of submissions we received stand as a testament to the profoundly positive effect teachers have on students far and wide, day in and day out. We’re awed by the work you do, and we want to say thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your dedication to preparing every student for the future of their choosing.

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